JW-Jones - Reviews

 
Bluelisted

"People have been asking for a more ‘guitar driven’ album from me for years – now is the time, explains JW-Jones regarding Bluelisted. As NorthernBlues’ longest standing artist, he has recorded a total of five discs for the label including their very first CD in 2001. J-Dub gets better and better with each release, and Bluelisted is no exception. The veterans of the blues scene have taken a shining to singer/songwriter/guitarist Jones as seen by the highly respected guests on this CD. He has wisely taken advantage of that situation to mature as a musician.

"Guest guitarists Little Charlie Baty and Junior Watson appear together on the same tracks for the first time in recorded history. The three remarkable guitarists all have a similar style and they play magnificently off of each other on six songs. Guitar enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that the credits clarify which artist performs which guitar solo. Other venerable guests include Richard Innes (drums) and Larry Taylor (bass), who have both spent time with The Mannish Boys.
Bluelisted contains ten originals and four covers, and was produced by Jones. If you like stylish guitar and bouncy grooves, with gently played drums, then this is the CD for you. Yet, you’ll hear more than fat-toned guitar. In the liner notes Dan Aykroyd states, Clearly Mr. Jones is conversant in the Westside and the Southside styles and sound.

"Guitar solos are frequently heard, but none of them contain a ton of notes. Sensibly, each comes loaded with the proper amount of artillery. The Freddie King popularized
Double Eyed Whammy isn’t a kick ass and rockin’ version like Tinsley Ellis recorded in the late ’80s. Rather, it becomes a West Coast swinging guitar fiesta. Heavy Dosage is a jazzy instrumental and Wasted Life is a take on Who’s Loving You Tonight. Baty’s harp on Out Of Service Blues is a nice change from all the six-stringing. Looking The World Straight In The Eye is funky and greasy, with a bit of Texas thrown in for good measure. The tempo changes, within the song, keep it interesting to listen to and complex to perform. You can almost smell the barbeque on the tasty licks present on the shufflin’ Can’t Play A Playboy. A honking sax creates a house party on Mad About You where a stomping boogie is driven by the pulsating horn section. Jesse Whiteley’s piano is impressive on The Doctor and a couple other tracks.

"Blues musicians do not usually receive their due acclaim until well in their senior years. Though he may be playing his scintillating swing blues into his retirement years, 28-year-old JW-Jones isn’t planning to wait until then to make his mark on the industry. This CD could be considered the Showdown! CD of white, West Coast-style guitarists. Jones’ vocals have a boyish charm, but they require further enhancements in order to match his guitar skills. Overall, this youthful artist’s music will attract a younger audience to the blues, and that is exactly what the genre needs."

-Tim Holek
Southwest Blues
October, 2008 

 
   

"First step in making a driving guitar record: bring in two more guitarists of first-rate caliber. JW-Jones didn't even think about second-tier players, he went after the big guns, Little Charlie Baty and Junior Watson. Step Two: Bring in the bass of Larry 'The Mole' Taylor and the drums of Richard Innes. Umm... this sounds like a dangerous concoction. Well, it down right is!

"The interesting side is that there are so many rhythms that reflect the Fabulous Thunderbirds through the years. I can't name the exact songs, but you can hear some of the early T-Bird rhythms as well as the later ones. But they are only hints and should give you an idea of the sound on this disc. Rockin' Blues with a bit of a West Coast Swing at times. This is the more traditional sound of Blues Rock.

"
Bluelisted moves you from beginning to end. Even with two groupings of musicians, they are both concrete units. The three guitarists all play on six of the fourteen cuts. Taylor and Innes play rhythm section on eight of the songs. Jeff Asselin and Martin Regimbald pick up the drums and bass on the remaining six.

"The liner notes include who is playing the lead strings through each part of every song. Granted, the section is titled
Road Map for Fellow Guitar Geeks, but that is a nice touch when 22 strings are ringin' at the same time! When you listen to the album it doesn't matter who is playing the lead part, it's blazing hot. The songs are full and not overloaded on guitar; every guitar chop is placed well and speaks volumes, not in volume. This is one tasty guitar album.

"Jones' offerings are fresh with well-written lyrics. The band supports the guitarists by laying back and groovin' so they could flex their fingers. Jones has nice, seasoned vocal chords. His voice is smooth with a shot of road dirt. When Jones is at the mike, the musicians respectfully keep the beat solid and wait their turn to rip loose.

"The guitar tones echo the likes of Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, or Duke Robillard. Jones' chops are lively and straightforward without being clichéd. The instrumental track, "Bogart Bounces Again," has a nice catch riff and the lead guitar tangents are well-worked pieces that still lead the song, not allowing it to grow stale.

"In the contemporary Blues scene, this album is a welcome addition. It has a nice blend of traditional sounds with a fresh twist. Jones was looking to record a rockin' guitar Blues album and he did. Mission accomplished."

-Kyle M. Palarino
BluesWax
September, 2008 

 
   

"This young Ottawa guitar-slinger/singer has earned serious kudos and a growing following over the course of four earlier albums. His fans include Dan Aykroyd (Elwood Blues, who contributes language-mangling liner notes here). Jones’s audience is set to expand thanks to this highly accomplished new disc. The virile sound of his band is fleshed out with horns on some tracks but it’s the guitar interplay of Jones and such high-profile guests as Junior Watson and Little Charlie Baty on tracks like Double-Eyed Whammy, Heavy Dosage (an album highlight) and Wasted Life that really catch the ear. Jones wrote most of the songs, and he does such influences as the guitar-playing Kings and Kim Wilson (also a Jones fan) proud. Another reference point would be fellow Canadian Colin James and, like James, you can expect Jones’s vocals to gain a little more authority as his career develops."

-Kerry Doole
Exclaim
June, 2008 

 
   

"So many emerging blues artists seem intent on making their mark by altering the genre beyond recognition. Ottawa 's JW-Jones, still relatively young by blues standards, takes a more conventional approach. Working within, rather than trying to tear the twelve-bar idiom apart, he just keeps making better and better recordings. And with Bluelisted, his fifth for Canada 's NorthernBlues label, he's crafted a disc that ought to be utterly ubiquitous when the year's best lists are compiled.

"Still in his twenties, JW has long been a confident, mature artist. Never one to overplay in the first place, his guitar work has simply become more fleet, fluid, and inventive. Here he's joined by two of the best in the business – Junior Watson and Little Charlie Baty – and proves quite capable of holding his own in such esteemed company. Also on hand for roughly half the disc's tracks are bassist Larry Taylor and drummer Richard Innes, stalwarts of the west-coast scene that proves JW's primary inspiration. (The rest of the cuts find his own working band handling rhythm chores quite capably indeed).

"JW states up front that he set out to assemble a guitar-oriented collection this time around, so apart from horn accents and a single guest turn by Baty on harmonica, guitar is what we get here. Liner notes even provide a 'roadmap' for guitar geeks, with solos, players, and channels listed to help listeners determine who's who.

"But Jones is wise enough to put the music first, so it's the songs, not the fretwork, that stand out. The focus is tight, with easy-going grooves in support of succinct solos that serve the song, rather than the other way around. His writing has continued to mature - his musical ideas here are fully developed, and he marshals available forces to excellent effect, working with long-time cohort Frank Scanga on horn charts that add harmonic sophistication without sacrificing rhythmic urgency.

"Despite the virtuosic talents of JW's guests, most tunes clock in under the four-minute mark, with a few short 'n' sweet at less than three. Variety is ample, from the strutting funk of
Double-Eyed Whammy that kicks things off, to the Texas shuffle of Can't Play A Playboy. The furious romp of Little Richard's Mad About You Baby is followed by the easy swing of Wasted Life. Heavy Dosage is pure jazz (and pure delight, as the three guitarists trade riffs while Innes and Taylor comp furiously), and JW revisits the titular tune of an earlier outing with Bogart Bounces Again. There are back-to-back covers of B. B. King, the stop-time swing of That's Wrong Mama and the shuffling Waiting On You, and deep blues by way of Out Of Service Blues, Baty providing masterful accompaniment on harmonica that leaves one wishing for more.

"Jones' vocals have improved with each recording, and while his voice lacks natural power he's learned to work well within his range, with carefully considered phrasing coloring his lines with nuance and shading rather than bombast. He's worked hard and it shows in every note.

"From writing to performances, sound to packaging, this is a first-rate effort that shows craft, care and attention to detail at every turn, yet exudes a palpable sense of joyous exuberance in every track. Swinging like mad from beginning to end and featuring some genuinely jaw-dropping fretwork, this one's utterly essential listening.

"Highly recommended!"

-John Taylor
Canadian Blues
May, 2008 

 
   

"JW-Jones’ latest release, Bluelisted (NorthernBlues) features Jones teaming up with two noteworthy guests, Little Charlie Baty and Junior Watson, for a solid set of guitar-driven blues. Jones’ four previous releases have all been pretty strong and diverse sets, considering he’s only 27 years old. The urban, sophisticated blues are his specialty, but he’s also capable of getting down in the alley as well with his considerable guitar chops and his smooth, refined vocals. Bluelisted stands out as his best set to date.

"Though Jones has guitar chops to burn, he almost underplays at times, preferring to let the song carry the day. There are no wasted notes, no endlessly meandering solos. In addition, Jones wrote all but four of the songs here and he’s as good with a pen as he is with a guitar. Highlights of the originals include
“Can’t Play A Playboy,” “Wasted Life,” “The Doctor,” and “Out of Service Blues,” which features Watson on guitar and Baty on harmonica. “Bogart Bounces Again” features some of Jones’ best guitar work as well.

"All of the tracks featuring Jones, Baty, and Watson are first-rate, but the jazzy instrumental
“Heavy Dosage” really gives them all room to stretch out. Amazingly, this album marks the first time Watson and Baty have ever played together on a recording. Hopefully, it won’t be the last.

"The cover tunes include a jump-blues take on
“Double Eyed Whammy,” and a fast and furious take on Richard Berry’s “Mad About You.” Happily, rather than digging out the same old, same old B. B. King tunes that have been done to death, Jones tackles a couple of rarely-heard King tunes, “That’s Wrong, Little Mama” (featuring a scorching break from Baty), and “Waiting On You.”

"Lending strong support on the disc are current Hollywood Blue Flames drummer Richard Innes and bassist Larry Taylor, and Jones’ bandmates, bassist Martin Regimbald and drummer Jeff Asselin. Keyboard whiz Jesse Whiteley makes the most of his appearances as well.

"Blues guitar fans will enjoy
Bluelisted for sure, but there’s something for everyone on this top-notch release."

-Graham Clarke
Blues Bytes
May, 2008 

 
   

"So many emerging blues artists seem intent on making their mark by altering the genre beyond recognition. Ottawa ’s JW-Jones, still relatively young by blues standards, takes a more conventional approach. Working within, rather than trying to tear the twelve-bar idiom apart, he just keeps making better and better recordings. And with Bluelisted, his fifth for Canada ’s NorthernBlues label, he’s crafted a disc that ought to be utterly ubiquitous when the year’s best lists are compiled...

"...From writing to performances, sound to packaging, this is a first-rate effort that shows craft, care and attention to detail at every turn, yet exudes a palpable sense of joyous exuberance in every track. Swinging like mad from beginning to end and featuring some genuinely jaw-dropping fretwork, this one’s utterly essential listening.

"Highly recommended!"

-John Taylor
Canadian Blues.ca
May, 2008 

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